Spring Training, Day 16: No-hitter watch

Exhibit 14,729 as to how Spring Training is different: 

After five innings today, I took a look at my scorecard and said, “Oh, hey, the Cardinals don’t have a hit yet.” And then they got one, and that was that. 

Seeing them next to each other, thinking about them on the same day, I was struck by the similarities between the Cardinals and Braves. They’re both going to score a lot of runs, thanks to deep and powerful lineups (though the advantage goes to StL here). They both have some big arms in relief and should have quality bullpens (though the advantage definitely goes to ATL there).

And then there are the rotations, for my money are what separates the two teams — and yet in a sense are somewhat similar. The difference is the Cards have one or two more questions than the Braves do. In each case, it could be a very good unit. In each case, there’s an exciting youngster in the five spot. The Cardinals are more likely to have a Cy Young contender, I think, but the Braves are more likely to have above-average performances from their 3rd and 4th guys.

Overall, for both teams, I think it will come down to what the rotations do. If Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook and either Kelly or Miller come up big, the Cardinals could win north of 90 games and win the division. If Medlen comes anywhere close to repeating and Hudson has one more strong year and Teheran emerges, the Braves could have the NL’s best record. But it’s hard to shake the thought in both cases that if something goes wrong, it’s going to be in the starting five.

You can actually take this parallel one step further, in that in each case, I think they’re chasing a team that’s a little better, a little more complete, has a little bit less uncertainty. So IMO there’s a good chance they’ll be in a Wild Card battle with one another as they chase the respective defending division champions.

Today’s game in a nutshell: Teheran was very good. Westbrook was a bit shaky. And the back of the Cardinals bullpen was very, very rocky in a 12-3 Braves win over St. Louis. 

Player of the day: Teheran. He pitched five no-hit innings, striking out six against two walks. Aside from Brian McCann, he’s probably the biggest variable for this team, in my mind. If he’s very good, look out.

Miles driven: 7 so far today, 1464 for the trip

Miles run: 3 today, 25 1/2 for the trip

Starbucks visits: 1 today, 16 for the trip

Up next: It’s one more long highway haul for me tonight. I’m Jupiter-bound once again, spending the last three nights of the trip in my old stomping grounds. For the next two days, I’m on the Braves beat, covering for my good friend and A-1 teammate Mark Bowman as they play the Marlins (tomorrow night) and Cardinals (Thursday).

And, finally, the playlist:

Depeche Mode announced tour dates today. So you get a Depeche Mode playlist, which is fairly easy (or really difficult, I’m not sure which) given that there are something like 200 DM tracks on my iPod. 

“Black Celebration”
“World In My Eyes”
“In Your Room”
“Nothing”
“Everything Counts”

-M.

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